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El Alma Austin
Photograph: Courtesy El Alma

The 12 best Mexican restaurants in Austin

Here’s where to go for the best Mexican food in Austin, including the best elotes, migas, mole and tequila

Written by
James Wong
Contributors
Dan Gentile
&
Alex Temblador
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If you know anything about Austin, you probably know that Mexican food here is top-notch. No, we’re not talking about Tex-Mex (although it’s stellar), we’re talking authentic Mex-Mex. From food trucks to fine-dining, the best Mexican restaurants in Austin bring lucky patrons the full scope of the cuisine — you’ll find dishes like ceviche, mole, broiled fish, goat soup, duck enmoladas, and a slew of specialties you probably haven’t even tried yet (but will no doubt try again and again).

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a craving something familiar; we’ve included the best tacos in Austin along with the top burritos and enchiladas, too. What about drinks, you ask? Well, it wouldn’t be Texas without a cool and refreshing margarita, and you’ll find plenty of them right here in Austin.

Ready to eat? Here’s our list of the best Mexican restaurants in Austin.

RECOMMENDED: The best restaurants in Austin

Best Mexican restaurants in Austin

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Trucks
  • East Cesar Chavez
  • price 1 of 4

Veracruz All Natural, helmed by sisters Reyna and Maritza Vazquez, has mastered both the Mexican restaurant and the taco trailer. Universally beloved for their migas and al pastor, their trailers (located on Cesar Chavez and at Radio Coffee) set themselves apart from Austin’s other taco trucks thanks to super fresh ingredients and little additions like housemade chips and juices. Their loyal following carries through to their brick-and-mortar locations in North Austin, Round Rock, and downtown Austin.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Downtown
  • price 3 of 4

La Condesa serves a hip take on traditional Mexican fare inside one of the city's most dazzling spaces. A vibrant, oversized mural frames the dining room where trendy Austinites dig (and dig into) the restaurant’s signature mole, a specialty that takes three days to cook. The patio, which overlooks Guadalupe Street, is perhaps one of the city's few and truly urban-feeling happy hour destinations — visit for deals on drinks along with special menu items like Chapulines (Oaxacan grasshoppers with toasted garlic, guacamole, and salsa tomatillo).

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Bouldin
  • price 3 of 4

Although Barton Springs Road packs plenty of family-friendly (read: tourist-friendly) dining options, it hasn’t always drawn restaurants with serious culinary reputations. El Alma's sprawling, multi-tiered footprint is a step in the right direction — its well-rounded menu offers a refreshing variety of tacos (like lamb barbacoa and shrimp al pastor) as well as hearty entrees to refuel after swimming. Don't miss the duck enchiladas, their most popular dish, served with pasilla mole and almonds.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Town Lake
  • price 3 of 4

El Naranjo began as a food trailer on Rainey Street before the street became an over-run bar district. The owners, Oaxacan ex-pats (who still return to lead regular culinary tours), now operate a brick-and-mortar in Austin’s South Lamar neigborhood where their Mexican roots shine in plates like seasonal ceviche and a pair of standout mole dishes (lighter amarillo, and 30-ingredient negro).

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Rosedale

Fonda San Miguel may be a classic, but its flavors have never gone out of style. Since 1975, the colorful Allandale institution, adorned with a museum's worth of sculptural art, has celebrated the entirety of Mexican cuisine since day one. From cochinita pibil of the Yucatan, to broiled fish of Vera Cruz, regional specialties are prepared with flair and seasoned technique.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Downtown
  • price 3 of 4

Suerte serves authentic Mexican cuisine with a contemporary edge over in East Austin. Using local heirloom corn, Chef Fermin Nunez crafts seasonally driven dishes like goat rib barbacoa with handmade tortillas and tetela al carbon. A sizable mezcal and tequila menu is available, and you'll find both spirits in Suerte's specialty cocktails: for an especially refreshing drink, the Nada Paloma is made with mezcal, tequila blanco, and housemade grapefruit soda.

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This new concept, located within the Fareground food hall, is led by James Beard-nominated chef Richard Sandoval and executive chef Albert Gonzalez. It’s Mexican street food at its very best: familiar yet totally authentic, the menu is packed with flavor. You’ll find tacos served with charred tomato salsa, burritos filled with Chicken Tinga, sweet Mexican ice pops, and staple drinks like aguas frescas in hibiscus or housemade horchata.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Downtown
  • price 3 of 4

Shoppers who need a break from 2nd Street can settle in at ATX Cocina, a modern Mexican oasis where chef Kevin Taylor puts a gourmet spin on quesadillas and the like. Go for the sopes layered with cochinita pibil, smoked beans, xni-pec and salsa verde, or dip into elevated queso fundido at the crudo bar on their breezy patio. It may be one of the more upscale Mexican restaurants, but they don’t skimp on portion size (at least not on mains, anyway). The house Paloma is brilliant, made with grapefruit four ways: as a foam, a juice, a simple syrup, and infused in reposado tequila.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Blackland
  • price 1 of 4

Manor Road is a hub for breakfast tacos, and although Chilito's Cherrywood is a neighborhood favorite, the more homestyle approach at Mi Madre’s makes their migas taste as if they were made by a loving parent. For years, Mi Madre’s only served breakfast and lunch, but the street's boom in the last five years led to an expansion—finally, dinner service is on the table. You’ll find unconventional appetizers like al pastor fries and mole wings, as well as more traditional dishes like roasted goat pasilla and chicken-filled chile relleno.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Bouldin Creek
  • price 1 of 4

Although it shuts down at 3 pm, sunlight pours into Habanero Cafe during breakfast and lunch as a melting pot of South Austinites dig into some of the best no-frills Mexican fare in town. Most of the decor comes courtesy of beer companies, but the vintage neon signs and tiled Corona mosaics add to its homestyle charm. Don't miss the chicken fajitas, made with a thick rub of chile powder that debunks the misconception that all fajitas are created equal. It's cash-only here, but the $6.95 specials make it easy to fill up for less than a Hamilton.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Wooten
  • price 1 of 4

Mi Tradicion is often rated as the best Mexican bakery in Austin by local press, so it's no big surprise that their selection of pan dulces is unparalleled. With two locations, the bakery serves enough cookies, empanadas, and doughnuts to send any sweet tooth into a tailspin, but these kitchens crank out more than just sweets. The bakery’s lunch menu offers up tacos, tortas, and blue corn quesadillas that are as authentic as it gets. Pro-tip: buy a bag of their surprisingly sweet tortillas to take home (you won't regret it).

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Riverside
  • price 1 of 4

Riverside is a hotbed of traditional Mexican joints, and with much respect to Taco More's salsa bar and goat soup, the most charming spot is El Taquito. Perched high above street level, the restaurant — founded by Tamaulipas immigrants— has dished late-night taquitos by the half dozen since 1995. The restaurant’s late closing time (1 am weekends) makes it a winning alternative to the strip's fast food chains with an undeniably great al pastor taco. An extended menu of queso fundidos and enchiladas also makes it more than just a taco spot, and the market-style option to buy meat by the pound can turn your kitchen into a legit taqueria (just don't forget the onions and cilantro).

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